Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, with the symptoms beginning gradually, worsening, and sometimes seem to disappear within one or two years. Frozen shoulder typically develops in three stages. Each of these stages can last for several months each.
Stages of Frozen Shoulder
Painful stage: During this stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder. The shoulder's range of motion becomes more limited.
Frozen stage: Pain can begin to diminish a bit. However, the shoulder begins to stiffen, and your shoulder’s mobility decreases.
Thawing stage: During the thawing stage, the range of motion begins to improve over time.
Frozen shoulder is more common in women, and in those over the age of 40. Furthermore, the risk of developing frozen shoulder increases if you are recovering from a condition that affects the mobility of the arm, such as a mastectomy or a stroke, a broken arm or surgery. Also, those who have experienced, or are experiencing, prolonged immobility of the arm and shoulder are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Individuals who suffer from the following medical conditions are also more predisposed to developing frozen shoulder:
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
A physical exam is usually undergone to determine if a patient has developed frozen shoulder. These tests are all done to assess pain and mobility, and general range of motion. Other tests may be run, like MRIs, but during the initial exam that may not be necessary. During the exam, the doctor may have the patient perform certain actions, including:
Raising both hands straight up in the air
Reaching across the chest to touch the opposite shoulder.
Starting with the back of the hand against the lower back, and reaching upward to touch the opposite side should blade
Treatment for frozen shoulder involves stretching exercises. Corticosteroids injected into the shoulder joint may also be deemed necessary, but often chiropractic can avoid these medications. For very few, surgery may be required to loosen the shoulder joint capsule to allow it to move more easily, but consistent treatment by a chiropractor may help you avoid surgery. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen may reduce pain and inflammation, and are often recommended following treatment.
Treatments for Frozen Shoulder
A chiropractor may be helpful in teaching a patient stretching exercises that can be beneficial in keeping the shoulder mobile. In general, these stretching exercises are aimed in keeping mobility of the shoulder for as long as possible, and Dr. Hamilton often assigns stretches for “homework” to each of his patients. Those that do their homework often see greater recuperation in shorter periods of time.
Acupuncture may prove as a viable and beneficial treatment path. Needles are inserted and left in place for a certain length of time, during which they may be manipulated. This may help in keeping mobility of the shoulder joint and stimulating blood flow to the body region. Often a combined regiment of treatment is recommended for maximum results.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations (TENS) may also be a viable treatment option. TENS delivers a tiny electrical current to points along a nerve. The current is delivered through electrodes. It is believed that the technique stimulates the release of endorphins, or blocks pain nerve impulses.
Dr. Hamilton D.C. is a specialist and can perform all of these treatments in one session. Take the next step, call us today, and get your shoulder back!